The ongoing pandemic and accompanying quarantine precautions have caused too many people to reach for the proverbial cookie jar. For me, it comes in the actual form of a cookie jar. For others, it means smoking or a few too many glasses of wine. It could also mean ordering fast food instead of cooking delicious, nutritious meals. Suddenly, you might find yourself feeling drained and exhausted, still stressed, and with a few more pounds on your frame.
Unfortunately, it’s precisely in these stressful times, such as the COVID-19 crisis that we need to step up our nutrition choices. This is when our decisions count the most to support our immune system. This is especially important if you’re going through a challenging stage of your life such as menopause or pregnancy. Yet another factor to add to the mix!
To avoid feeling sluggish, sleepy, and blue, you can rethink your diet once again. I’ve assembled a few tried and tested dietary suggestions for those of you who could benefit from them the most.
5 Nutrition Tips To Boost Your Health and Productivity
1. Focus on macronutrient balance
Unless you’re a professional athlete or a nutritionist yourself, chances are that you’re not quite certain if your meals are truly balanced in terms of your fat, carbs, and protein intake. These macronutrients all serve different purposes in your body. Their purpose can depend on your lifestyle, activity levels, and overall energy expenditure. Therefore, you’ll need a specific approach to balancing the three ingredients.
As we age, for instance, our muscle mass decreases together with our bone density, which calls for more lean protein intake and more moderate activities. Be it in supplement form or through food, your macronutrients should be tailored to your specific needs. You can establish this with your physician.
2. Plan your snacks in advance
As Dr. Lilian Cheung, a nutritionist, explains, mindless eating may be worsening our health issues and obesity rates. The need for mindful eating is even greater for situations when we’re experiencing added stress. This means more cortisol and often translates into more cravings (to which we’ll get shortly).
In my own experience, in addition to focusing on what I eat, I also focus on how I eat. I also strive to eat mindfully, slowly and try to savor my food. Pre-plan your healthy snacks such as nuts and seeds, fresh fruit, and veggies with healthy dips. Empty your kitchen with temptations such as junk food, and you’ll slowly help yourself transition to a more mindful approach when it comes to your nutrition.
3. Supplement your diet properly
During specific times of the year, your mind and body can greatly benefit from turning to powerful supplements. For instance, during seasonal changes, many people deal with drops in their immune system, catching frequent colds, and battling viral infections. Now that we have a global pandemic on our hands, the relevance of boosting our immune system is greater than ever.
First, you should carefully read the ingredients list of any supplement you’re considering. In fact, some of my favorite supplements contain minerals such as magnesium and zinc, known for their role in ensuring our immune resilience. Then there are vitamin C and D, which are considered equally vital for our health, so adding these supplements can become essential during different seasons to help us stay strong.
4. Vitamins and minerals to the rescue
Many of us go through life without realizing that we might have a vitamin or mineral deficiency caused by our lifestyle, whether it’s spending most of our time indoors, consuming incomplete food sources, or simply not diversifying our nutrition enough.
Depending on the food we consume, the bioavailability of certain minerals and vitamins will differ. So, for example, during pregnancy, women are often advised to monitor and increase their vitamin B12 intake due to its importance for the baby’s development.
The same vitamin is also essential for our own wellbeing, as it is vital for the health of our nervous system and energy metabolism, among many other roles. Without enough of it in your diet, you might feel excess fatigue and an overall lack of energy. If you suffer from a deficiency or need a boost during pregnancy, taking vitamin B12 might be a good option, provided that your doctor has confirmed it with you.
5. Defeating those sugar cravings
Whether you’re going through “the change” and thus experiencing fluctuations in your energy levels or you’re simply burnt out at work, most of us have craved specific foods at one time or another. If you feel those sugar cravings regularly, like I do, that’s typically a signal that your body needs more energy.
In specific situations such as the ongoing pandemic when we’re under more stress than we’re accustomed to, these cravings never seem to go away even when we do munch on our favorite snacks. In such instances, the excess stress hormone cortisol is often to blame.
Instead of reaching for the first sweet treat, you can find, why not replace this self-destructive habit with something that will actually help you ease the stress? You can make a cup of herbal tea, as the entire ritual can be quite soothing, or you can take a walk, which is another way to help your body process your emotions without emptying the cookie jar.
The bottom line
Protecting your wellbeing and investing in your immune system is essential especially in the current situation. However, it should become a mindset, not a one-time goal, to take better care of yourself through these lifelong habits of building your nutrition on healthy choices. By eliminating unhealthy ingredients in your diet and replacing them with healthy options, you can stay resilient at every stage of your life and throughout your silver years, too.
Who is the author?
Sophia Smith is a lifestyle blogger, graphic designer, and food enthusiast. She is very passionate about eco-friendly and green topics, eco beauty, and conscious business. Sophia’s other hobbies centre around her love of yoga, wellness rituals, and living in balance with nature. She loves sharing meaningful content that inspires people. She has covered topics ranging from organic beauty products and sustainability to self-care and mental health.
Sophia has contributed to a number of publications including Eco Warrior Princess, Naughty Nutrition, and Herbs Mother Earth Living. She’s also written for Sivana Spirit, Urban Naturale, Carousel, and Cause Artist.
You can find out more about her writing by following her on Twitter (@sophia_bri)